February 14, 2019 / 4:58 PM / 5 months ago

UPDATE 1-Canada Pension Plan CEO Machin warns of lower returns

* CPPIB achieves 1.1 percent return in Q3

* Fund had net assets of $368.5 billion at Dec. 31 (Recasts with comments from CEO interview)

By Matt Scuffham

TORONTO, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) Chief Executive Mark Machin said on Thursday he anticipates significantly lower returns on assets over the “next several years” as the global economy slows.

Canada’s biggest public pension fund reported a net return of 1.1 percent in the third quarter of its fiscal year to Dec. 31, which Machin said represented a “resilient” performance in the face of declines in global equity markets.

“We’re going to see much more modest returns going forward across the board,” he said in an interview. “We’re seeing a significant slowing of economies across the world.”

Machin said he expected lower returns across all asset classes due to both economic challenges and competition for assets driving valuations higher.

“I think it’s going to be much more challenging for the next few years,” he said. “Whether it’s a public or private asset it’s going to be a similar story. There’s a large amount of capital in the world competing for assets at the same time.”

The CPPIB, which manages Canada’s national pension fund and invests on behalf of 20 million Canadians, has diversified to become one of the world’s biggest investors in infrastructure, real estate and private equity to reduce its reliance on volatile global stock markets and low-yielding government bonds.

Machin said diversification left the fund well-placed to grow despite the challenging market backdrop.

The CPPIB said its net assets totaled C$368.5 billion ($278 billion) on Dec. 31, 2018, compared with C$368.3 billion three months earlier. For the nine months to Dec. 31, the CPPIB posted a net return of 3.6 percent.

Canadian pension plans, on average, lost 3.5 percent on their investments in the quarter to Dec. 31, according to a report by RBC Investor & Treasury Services last week, which blamed global political and economic uncertainty for the losses.

$1 = 1.3268 Canadian dollars Reporting by Matt Scuffham Editing by Tom Brown

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